As a designer, one of my responsibilities is to recommend suitable fabrics that will stand up to the task at hand. For example, if you need a new custom cushion for your mudroom bench, I would probably recommend a Sunbrella®, Crypton, or other indoor/outdoor-rated and spot-washable fabric that could stand a little mud, snow, rain, and “backpack who-knows-what residue.” Think school bus floor…well, scratch that mental image for now! So,what are these super durable fabrics that are now engineered for softness and a good “hand” for indoor use, and how do you clean them when spots and stains happen?
Most of you have already heard about the fabulous Sunbrella® fabric that originated for outdoor use, but has become popular for indoor use too. This brand was developed by textile innovator Glen Raven in the 1960’s to create an awning canvas with a longer lifespan than traditional cotton. Their solution-dyed acrylic paired with high-style designs, caught on and today Sunbrella is considered one of the top marine-grade fabrics in the world. It has many applications, for boat canvas, upholstery, awnings, sling chairs and more. The fact that Sunbrella is acrylic and the color is in the actual fiber strands, not just printed on, makes it cleanable with bleach. In humid and wet areas, this means you can use bleach on Sunbrella to combat the dreaded mildew.
My favorite Sunbrella supplier has generously posted instructions for cleaning of this fabric (in downloadable PDF files):
Sunbrella Outdoor PDF Sunbrella Indoor PDF Sunbrella Stain Cleaning PDF
Several of my vendors offer Crypton fabric, which is great for seat cushions in kitchens, mudrooms, and dining rooms. It started with hospitality use (commercial spaces like restaurants, offices, hospitals, etc), and has new hit the home décor market with great success, and many patterns. Here is a blurb from the Crypton site:
Cleaning Codes for Home Décor Fabrics
Just like the care tag sewn into apparel items, each home décor fabric comes with a cleaning code. When you receive fabric samples from Center Stage’s fabric vendors, look for this information on the label—typically DC, S, W, WS, or X, as described below.
General Guidance on Cleaning:
Draperies, valances, and upholstered items should be lightly vacuumed every few months for longevity and dust control. If you should get a stain on a home décor fabric, the following details on the cleaning codes (courtesy of Greenhouse Fabrics) will help.
Cleaning Code: DC
Before attempting to clean the actual fabric in your décor, we suggest you test the cleaning method (above) on the fabric swatch Barbara gave you when you ordered or received your draperies or upholstered item. It’s always good to be cautious.
Clean spots or stains from the outside to the middle of the affected area, to prevent circling. Cushion covers should not be removed for laundering or dry cleaning. Hot water extraction or steam cleaning is not a recommended method of cleaning. Pile fabrics may require brushing with a nonmetallic, stiff bristle brush to restore appearance. To prevent overall soiling, frequent vacuuming or light brushing with a non-metallic, stiff brush to remove dust and grime is recommended. Overall cleaning by a professional furniture cleaning service only is recommended.
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.